Today, VSBA staff began the week attending the 7 a.m. meeting of House Education Subcommittee #2. Bills of interest to the Association were:
SB 343 (Peake) – This bill would prohibit any school board from employing any individual who has been convicted of any felony offense against a child; a certain act of violence or violent felony; any offense involving the sexual molestation, physical or sexual abuse, or rape of a child; or any offense requiring registration with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Register Act. The bill would provide that for any other felony offense, the school board, in its discretion, may hire an individual who has had his civil rights restored by the Governor and at least five years have passed since such conviction. The subcommittee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute conforming the bill to HB 1000 (Gilbert) and recommended the bill for reporting (7-0).
SB 605 (Ebbin) – This bill would require the Board of Education to adopt regulations to implement the provisions of federal law that prohibit any local school board or any individual who is an employee, contractor, or agent of a local school board from assisting an employee, contractor, or agent of such local school board in obtaining a new job if such local school board or individual knows or has probable cause to believe that the employee, contractor, or agent engaged in sexual misconduct regarding a minor or student in violation of law. The subcommittee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute clarifying the implementation of the bill. The subcommittee recommend reporting the bill as amended (7-0).
SB 747 (Sturtevant) – This bill would provide that the guaranteed admissions agreements between baccalaureate public institutions of higher education and associate-degree-granting public institutions of higher education may provide for the guaranteed admission of a student who earns an associate degree concurrently with a high school diploma through a dual enrollment program, as well as any student who earns an associate degree after high school. The subcommittee recommended reporting the bill (7-0).
SB 785 (Surovell) – This bill would prohibit local school boards from requiring the use of any electronic textbook in any course in grades six through 12 unless the school board adopts a plan to ensure that on or before July 1, 2020, (i) each student enrolled in such course will have actual access at school and, if any assignment requires the use of such electronic textbook outside of school hours, in his residence to at least one personal computing device not shared with another student that contains an operating system and the hardware necessary to support the format of each electronic textbook expected to be used in such course and (ii) the relevant school has adequate connectivity, which the bill defines as bandwidth of at least one megabit per second per enrolled student. The subcommittee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute changing the adequate connectivity speed required to 256 Kilobytes. VSBA spoke in opposition to the bill. The subcommittee recommended the bill for reporting (7-0).
Following the adjournment of the Subcommittee VSBA staff attended the full meeting of House Education as well as House Finance. Bills of interest in House Education included:
SB 169 (Stanley) – This bill would require any nonprofit corporation founded in 1913 that currently organizes and governs interscholastic activities among the public high schools to establish, by July 1, 2021, a varsity level robotics team competition program that includes state championships. The committee failed to report the bill (7-11).
SB 229 (Hanger) – This bill would require the Board of Education to establish a training program for school board employees who assist in the transportation of students on school buses, including individuals employed to operate school buses and school bus aides, on autism spectrum disorders, including the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, strategies for interacting with students with autism spectrum disorders, and collaboration with other employees who assist in the transportation of students on school buses. The bill would require each school board employee who assists in the transportation of students with autism spectrum disorders on school buses to participate in such training program. The committee reported and referred the bill to House Appropriations (18-0).
SB 273 (Petersen) – This bill would authorize local school boards to include and requires the Board of Education to accept, for elementary school, unstructured recreational time that is designed to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness in any calculation of total instructional time or teaching hours. The committee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute conforming the bill to HB 1419 (Delaney). The committee reported the bill as amended (17-0).
SB 401 (Lewis) – This bill would direct the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Education to update the "Window into a Green Virginia" curriculum developed by the Departments for sixth grade science to include a unit on the benefits, including the energy benefits, of recycling and reuse. The committee reported and referred the bill to House Appropriations (18-0).
SB 664 (McPike) – This bill would require the Board of Education, in its graduation requirements, to permit local school divisions to waive the requirement for students to receive 140 clock hours of instruction after the student has completed the course curriculum and relevant Standards of Learning end-of-course assessment, or Board-approved substitute, provided that such student subsequently receives instruction, coursework, or study toward an industry certification approved by the local school board. The committee reported the bill (16-1).
In House Finance, one bill of interest discussed was:
SB 172 (Stanley) – This bill would expand the Education Improvement Scholarships tax credits program by including, as eligible scholarship recipients, children enrolled in or attending nonpublic pre-kindergarten programs. The maximum annual scholarship that a child admitted to, enrolled in, or attending a nonpublic pre-kindergarten program will receive is the lesser of the child's actual educational expenses or the state share of the grant per child under the Virginia Preschool Initiative for the locality in which the child resides. Under current law, tax credits are awarded to individuals and businesses making donations to nonprofit scholarship foundations using the donated funds to award scholarships to certain students in grades K-12 attending nonpublic schools. Eligible scholarship recipients are students in grades K-12 with a finalized individualized education program (IEP) in place or whose annual household income is not in excess of 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The bill would define an eligible pre-kindergarten child and a nonpublic pre-kindergarten program and includes several other curriculum and administrative requirements that must be met by a nonpublic pre-kindergarten program in order for children attending the program to be eligible to receive scholarships under the tax credit program. Under the bill, VCPE or the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation will certify nonpublic pre-kindergarten programs meeting such curriculum and administrative requirements. The bill would also reduce the penalty for failure to fully disburse all donations received from 200 percent of the difference between 90 percent of the value of the donations it received and the amount disbursed to 100 percent of the difference. This bill incorporates SB 553. VSBA spoke in opposition to the bill. The committee failed to report the bill (9-11).
Following this, VSBA staff attended House Courts of Justice Subcommittee #1. The following bill of interest was discussed:
SB 476 (Reeves) – This bill would provide that school principals are not required to report criminal misdemeanors or status offenses to law enforcement if in the principal's discretion, based on a totality of the circumstances and consistent with Board of Education guidelines, such report is not warranted. The bill would require the Board of Education, in consultation with the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Office of the Attorney General, and any interested stakeholders, to update its Student Conduct Policy Guidelines to provide guidance for principals in exercising such discretion. VSBA supports this bill. The subcommittee recommended carrying the bill over to 2019 on a voice vote.
Lastly, VSBA staff attended the meeting of House Education Subcommittee #1. Bills of interest to VSBA discussed included:
SB 76 (Favola) – This bill would specify that for the purpose of Board of Education regulations for the approval of teacher education programs, the term "education preparation program" includes four-year bachelor's degree programs in teacher education. VSBA spoke in support of this bill. The subcommittee recommended the bill for reporting (7-0).
SB 170 (Stanley) – This bill would prohibit, except for drug offenses, firearm offenses, and certain criminal acts, students in preschool through grade three from being suspended for more than three school days or expelled from attendance at school unless (i) the offense involves physical harm or credible threat of physical harm to others or (ii) the local school board or the division superintendent or his designee finds that aggravating circumstances exist, as defined by the Department of Education. VSBA worked with the patron and other stakeholders to modify the language to allow more flexibility for local school divisions and supports the bill. The subcommittee recommended the bill for reporting (7-0).
SB 238 (De Steph) – This bill would prohibit local school boards from requiring a student or his parent to disclose information related to the student's race or ethnicity unless (i) the student or his parent is given an option to designate "other" for the student's race or ethnicity or (ii) such disclosure is required by federal law. The subcommittee recommended the bill for reporting (7-0).
SB 349 (Peake) – This bill would make several changes to the teacher licensure process, including (i) permitting teachers with a valid out-of-state license, with full credentials and without deficiencies, to receive licensure by reciprocity without passing additional licensing assessments and (ii) permitting a local school board or division superintendent to waive certain licensure requirements for any individual who holds a provisional license and is employed by the local school board. This bill incorporates SB 257, SB 409, SB 548, SB 549, SB 551, SB 558,SB 723, and SB 863. VSBA supports this bill. An amendment in the nature of the substitute was adopted by the subcommittee. VSBA spoke in support of the bill. The subcommittee recommended reporting the bill as amended (7-0).
SB 969 (Newman) – This bill would require the Board of Education, in establishing high school graduation requirements, to require students to earn one verified credit in history and social science by (i) the successful completion of a Board-developed end-of-course Standards of Learning assessment; (ii) achievement of a passing score on a Board-approved standardized test administered on a statewide, multistate, or international basis that measures content that incorporates or exceeds the Standards of Learning content in the course for which the verified credit is given; or (iii) achievement of criteria for the receipt of a locally awarded verified credit from the local school board in accordance with criteria established in Board guidelines when the student has not passed a corresponding Standards of Learning assessment. The bill would prohibit such end-of-course Standards of Learning assessment from being a performance-based assessment. The subcommittee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute. The subcommittee recommended reporting and referring the bill as amended to House Appropriations (5-2).